collection of personal and political essays, letters and poems. ms. walker opines on a range of topics from health care to the obama presidency for about 45 minutes. >> i'm very happy to see all of you. it's a wonderful evening to be in this city which i know of, unfortunately, through so many of your disasters. but i was thinking looking at the fountains there's a little one you have for the children and a bigger one for the adults. i was thinking, well, you know, where water flows, so can peace. and so the history that is so vivid for me of the bombing of the move people, of the imprisonment of -- [inaudible] that history is not the whole story, and it's very good to
remember that and to see that we make our way every day, every single step can be a different direction. so as i was thinking about what i wanted to talk about and read about -- and i don't have a, you know, whole lot of time -- but i wanted to start by mentioning something that i find very disturbing, which is that, you know, our country -- and, you know, we're not alone. this country's not the only country making a lot of war in the world. but we're making some really terrible, big ones. and we, you know, bomb and shoot these people over generations, starve them, you know, have blockades. cuba, for instance, iran, other places in the world. and then when we have someone in, quote, leadership who says, well, you know, we'll start a
slow withdrawal and we start thinking, oh, well, the war's over, well, i was reading or maybe i heard this somewhere -- and this is just something for us to meditate about -- that the children in el salvador, i believe, where the war went on forever and will never end really, the children have been left so impoverished that they can no longer eat without having pain in their teeth. because what has the war left them with? the war has left them with tooth ache forever. this is what war does. it isn't just when you stop shooting people, bombing their houses and, you know, destroying everything that you somehow they're going to be okay. they're not. so i wanted to start there. and also to go on to these two new books. now, i have been trying for, i
guess, the last 20-something years to stop writing books. [laughter] and i keep, you know, i totally get it that i work for the ancestors. and i sometimes will feel very free. you know, i finished something. i remember finishing "the color purple" 30 years ago and just weeping in joy, you know? okay, i'm done. [laughter] and i have had that scenario with myself many times. [laughter] thinking i'm dope. but anyhow -- i'm done. but anyhow, so this book, i'm going to read first from "the cushion in the road," and i wanted to read a little bit about how that came about, how did i come to think of the life that i lead which is very, when i'm not, you know, on the road somewhere so quiet, is so meditative, it's so
contemplative. it is so happy with he and my sweetheart who is a musician. one of the ironies of life, of course, is that i love quiet so much that i fell in love with a person who plays trumpet. [laughter] so, you know, life -- i'm sure it's the same with you -- life is always just, you know, telling us who do you think is in charge? [laughter] did you by some dream, did you imagine that you are in charge? [laughter] well, i'll just show you. so, so this is a very short introduction to this book, "the cushion in the road." i have learned much from daoist thought. it had been a comfort to me since i read my first daoist poem which was sitting quietly, doing nothing. spring comes, and the grass
grows by itself. to me, this is a perfect poem. but there is also from that tradition this thought, a wanderer's home is this the road -- is in the road. a wanderer's home is in the road. this has proved very true if my own -- in my own life. much to my surprise, because i am such a home body. i love being home with my plants, animals, sunrises and sunsets, the moon. it is all glorious to me. and so when i turned 60, i was prepared to bring all of myself to sit on my cushion in a meditation room i had prepared long ago and never get up. [laughter] it so happened, it so happened that i was in south korea that year, of course, and south koreans agreed with me. in fact, in that culture it is
understood that when we turn 60, when we turn 60, we become eggy. it sounds like eggy, but perhaps this is not how koreans spell it. and this means we are free to become once again like a child. we are to rid ourselves of our cares, especially those we have collected in the world. and to turn inward to a life of ease, of leisure, of joy. i loved hearing this. [laughter] what an affirmation of a feeling i was already beginning to have. enough of the world. where is the grandchild? where is the cushion? and so i began to prepare myself to withdraw from the worldly fray. there i sat finally on a cushion in mexico with a splendid view of a homemade stone town --
fountain with its softly-falling water, a perfect, soothing backdrop to what i thought would be perhaps the next and final 20 years of my life -- unlike my great, great, great grandmother who lived to be 125, i figure 80 is doing really well. [laughter] and then a miracle seemed to be happening. america, america was about to elect or not elect a person of color as its president. what? my cushion shifted minutely. then, too, an unsuspecting guest left the radio on, and i learned that bombs were falling on the people of gaza. a mother, unconscious herself, had lost five of her daughters. didn't i have a daughter? would i have wanted to lose her in this way?
wasn't i a mother? even if reportedly imperfect in that role? well, my cushion began to wobble. i had friends who became eggy and managed to stay eggy. [laughter] i envied them. for me, the years following my 60th birthday seemed to be about teaching me something else that, yes, i could become like a child again and enjoy all the pleasures, the wonder a child experiences. but i would have to attempt to maintain this joy in the vicissitudes of the actual world as opposed to the meditative universe i had created with its calming, ever flowing fountain. my travels would take me to the celebrations in washington, d.c. where our new president, barack obama, would be inaugurated. they would carry me the morning after those festivities to
faraway burma, myanmar, which would lead to much writing about aung san suu kyi. they would take me to thailand for a lovely trip up river where i could wave happily at the people who smiled back when smiled upon. they would take me to gaza, yes, and much writing about the palestine/israel impasse. to the west bank, to india, to all kinds of amazing places. like, for instance, petra in jordan. who knew? i would find myself raising a nation of chickens in between travels and visits to holy people in oakland, woodacre and -- [inaudible] my cushion, the fountain, the peace because of my attention to some of the deep suffering in the world sometimes seemed far away. i felt torn, a condition i do not like and dot no recommend.
and do not recommend. and then in a dream it came to me. there was a long asphalt highway like the one that passed by my grandparents' place when i lived with them as an 8 and 9-year-old. my grandfather and i would sit on the porch in the still georgia heat and count the cars as they whizzed by. he'd choose red cars, i would choose blue or black. it was a sitting on cushions of sorts, i suppose, for the two of us because hours could go by, and we were perfectly content. perhaps that is why in the dream the solution to my qappedly was available. quandary was available. there in the middle of the long, perfectly straight highway with its slightly faded yellow center line that i had known and loved as a child sat my rose colored
meditation cushion directly on the yellow line right in the middle of the road. so what do i believe? that i was worn -- born to wander, and i was born to sit. to love home with a sometimes almost unbearable affection, but to be lured out into the world to see how it is doing as my beloved larger home and paradise. [applause] so in my kitchen for many years i have been supported by all of the photographs and sayings and poetry of people. and recently i decided the take
down most of it because it had been there so long, the edges were curling, and the paper was turning yellow. but with when i came to this quote from walt whitman, i could not remove it, and so i'll read it to you because one of the things that's so lovely about having a history if a place is to -- in a place is to have poets who have gone before and who have left these wonderful guides to us. and you probably know this quote. this is what you shall do, love the earth and the sun and the animals. love the earth and the son and the imagines -- and the sun and the animals. despise riches. there i disagree with him. [laughter] i think it should be share riches. give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy. now, i love that part, stand up for the stupid and crazy. now really, this will test us.
[laughter] but, um, it has to be done. you have to stand up for them and to them. [laughter] [applause] devote your income and labor to others and to yourself, you are deserving. hate tyrants really. you know, the tyrants -- i don't know if hating them is going to change them. it doesn't seem to have worked very well. anyway, you can hate tyranny. argue not concerning god. now there is an argument you have to agree that is futile. [laughter] you know? really. looking deeply, peering closely. have patience and indulgence toward the people. now that is also a tall order
especially in hot weather. [laughter] have patience and indulgence toward the people. take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men. go freely with powerful -- go freely with powerful, uneducated people and with the young and with the mothers of families. read these leaves in the open air every season and every year of your life. re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book. re-examine it. dismiss whatever, whatever insults your own soul. dismiss it. and your very flesh shall be a great poem. hallelujah. ..
sleeping, not meditating, sleeping. just fat and lazy. and then, duke's people put him on a diet. the entire time we saw duke last evening amid duke was bouncing all over the place. bright eyes, happy, full of themselves. and that is the way it can be without. but anyway, in this particular peacetime same something else. the most important thing humanity can do is to believe in itself. and i do believe this is true. i think we are in such danger of not believing in ourselves because we gone so far. we've lost so much of what we thought was good, what with how it's possible, what we thought was right. the most important thing humanity can do is to believe in itself that we can grow, that we can change and that we can rouse ourselves to gratitude.
gratitude is what makes this wealthy. i respect in her linnet to be on my plan matter recovers. gratitude to the only planet. until i was a teenager, i had no experience of ways. growing up on a farm in middle georgia come everything we grew, bill, raise until it was used up. there was no extra. no such thing as letter. my parents were puzzled with the perceived the beginning of the community among their relatives, friends, children of the age. neither of them knew what to do, for ample, was styrofoam containers or plastic cups. they thought i didn't so
wondrously him so lightly and dirty should certainly be prized. they wash and reuse them until replacements began to appear at an alarming rate. [laughter] is not the? .you just love my parents? and mean, just a cheap gear enders and being, you know, of what would become the problem. but anyway, for a long time, they select getting carefully stashed these new inventions in the kitchen pantry, believing i suppose at some point they would come in handy. perhaps -- [laughter] i just want to hug them. they were so wise. perhaps they could be used to carry through to picnics. maybe they'd be useful to share food if someone came to dinner and wanted to take food home.
i mean, really. that makes so much sense. how could they know this plastic, like almost all plastic from that time to this would end up in the ocean, killing turtles, dolphins, whales and fish and presenting major health challenges to human, all because it was used once and thrown away. my parents heeded their homes never more than three small rooms and a kitchen with what they cut and carried inside themselves until they moved to town where everyone used electric heaters and in the chilly concrete rooms of the projects, random and went to rome a solid, rarely even warm. my grandparents are even more frugal than my parents and lacked for a longer time than my parents, both electricity and refrigeration. all food was eaten fresh, canned
and jarred her winter, salt. in summer coming to to favorite fruit, watermelon, was kept cool by placing them under the bed. a magical place to me as a child for the round dark green treasure. you know, i'm going to stop right here and recommend when you go and buy watermelons, especially those green ones, if your children, put the balance under the bed for the children to find. it's just absolutely having. [laughter] they had kerosene lamps, which they laid until their late 60s they also moved to town. they, like my parents can occur everything they ate except citrus fruit, sugar, salt and coffee, which they bought in town a few times a year. like my parents also come up a race picks and chickens, ducks and recurrence of healthy
produce that made them sound the best that people on earth. they knew nothing of artificial fertilizer, and nothing of pesticide. there was one major garden among the tomatoes, giant tomato arms carefully picked often planted by hand. we chased it around the yard. like miniature green dragons. the largest of them even had one. i was not afraid of them. my sister ruth was terrified of them, which was really unfortunate for her. [laughter] what i learned from this country folks and from my own life, that it is not necessary. it is not necessary to be rich, or even well-off, to be happy. but it's essential to have
enough. much energy might go into educating human beings about just what enough is. as a culture, we in america have released theme to no part of this ignorance is because we inherited a consumer dear friend capitalist system and paid no attention to the people of indigenous cultures already here who are more like my parents and grandparents, extremely careful not to waste anything. if my parents and grandparents had health care that included the dennis well-equipped with materials and work had provided a decent wage, our family would've been content with the happiness that went on their peaceful existence. he managed to make what we did have. will we need to endure another
war on american soil? of the many wars that have been fought here, it is the couple were most think of us were. the quote, indian wars, genocidal wars against indigenous population are largely forgotten. but we have to have another war on our soil before we learn what is precious in life. nea, i think a story a friend of mine told about being in nicaragua during the contra war against the sandinistas. you will recall that the united states backed the contras alas. she said one day she watched the government to town to pick up a paper clip set a trap onto the floor. nick or a go-ahead and so impoverished by the war that there seemed nothing more could actually can better have the supplies p. she could tell by
the look at the big clip was cherished. this is the most moving moments in her time of witness there. this may well be how it is suarez. so wasteful it so much. for so long. but maybe not. nostradamus' prophecy, an all-out nuclear war during this very. notwithstanding. perhaps we can learn how to change our course in a way that means we and all the resources will not be consumed in more. war, which is perhaps the most blatantly unintelligent and unproductive activity that humans are engaged in. of course there are others. a general waste of resources, constituting a major and unlovable war. not only against our common
mother, but against ourselves. the planet is fed up. the planet is tired of us. my friend, bill while papa of kickapoo ancestry used to come to my house exhausted from mother earth and would collapse on a bed in a castillo, always sprinkling tobacco and saying to us, mother earth is so tired i'm so weary and rat face. i can hardly bear suffering. it always felt as if we were talking about his very best friend as well as of his mother. he ways. he died talking and singing and drumming to her, praying on top of me says her corporation is i
chanting besides pristine rivers, seem to be polluted by mining, for hacking another grotesque forms of ecological raise. he was always thinking of her, always in prayerful alignment. he was her son. he did not forget this for a moment. we must all learn to know her as bill while papa did, it do know she is alive, that she is alive and needing affection, caring, love, that she is every thing. or we can give her nothing but basically greased. massive amounts of faith will be required that we can change enough to be worthy of her caring for a, all these millions of years. all these millions of years caring for us. there is a bit of comfort in
knowing that having done all that we can, although we can, we must go down, we will go down together and heartfelt alignment. first mother and her earthly children, doing our best to save each other from a fate that but unfortunately for us humans is all too easily without a drastic change of course already in so many parts of the world apparent. [applause] i want to -- i understand i don't have all the time in the world, but i want to review online if i can find it that
just came to me called what do i care for getting old? [laughter] wait, here it is good what do i get for getting old? 72. i really like this line because, you know, one of the problems -- there's so many things. you can just plug in anywhere. the whole idea of being afraid of getting old, even though you don't want to die is so bizarre. you know, would you rather just die and not get old? [laughter] what do i get for getting old? a picture story for the curious. i hope you had how much more time? in that case i'm going to read some short ones.
okay wait, wait i'm awake. okay, okay. okay, thank you. what do i get for getting old? a picture story for the curious. i get to meditate in a chair. now, how many meditators are out there? because you know -- and the ideal scenario, you sit on a cushion, cross your legs into double and. you have to be really correct, right? spoke a moment to get old, you can meditate in a chair. i get to meditate in a chair or against the wall with my legs stretched out. it's really bad news to be good for meditation center. they really don't think that's good. when you get older, you can do that. i get to see half of lamott
cannot. this changes everything. but man i adored they never shocked me. i get to spend time with myself whenever i want. i get to ride a bicycle with tall handlebars. my posture improves. i get to give up learning to sail. [laughter] i get to know i will never be german. i get to snuggle all morning with my smuggler of choice, counting the hours by how many times we get ftp. [laughter] i get to spend time with myself whenever i want. i get to eat chocolate with my salad or even as a first course. i get to forget. i get to pit with colors i've
never seen before. i get to sleep with my dog and pray never to outlive my cat. i get to play music without reading a note. i get to spend time with myself whenever i want. i get to sleep in a hammock under the same stars wherever i am. i get to spend time with myself when ever i want. i get to laugh at all the things i don't know and cannot find. [laughter] i get to greet people i don't remember at this end know them very well. [laughter] after all, how different can they be quiet i get to grow my entire garden and a few pots. i get to spend time with myself
whenever i want. i get to see and feel the suffering of the whole world should take a nap when i feel like it. i get to spend time with myself whenever i want. i get to feel more loved than i ever thought existed. everything appears to be made of the stuff. i feel it is especially for you, but may not remember exactly which u. ur. how cool is this? still, i get to spend time with myself whenever i want. and that is just a taste of field people use to stay in georgia when i was a child of what you get for getting old, reminding us as they witnessed their curiosity about them that no matter the losses, there is something fabulous going on at every stage of life, something to let go of navy. for darned sure something to
get. [applause] okay, this is the last one. this is a column about recognizing that sin is actually a part of the discipline that makes us who we become, that there's not this thing living without it. and we may as well, you know, except that in work with it. and by doing that, we can grow a lot. so this is called hope to send only in the service of waking up. hope never to believe it is your duty or right to harm another simply because you mistakenly believe they are not you.
hope to understand suffering as a hard assignment even in school you wish to avoid but did not. hope to be imperfect. and although ways that keep you growing. hope never to see another on even a blade of grass is beyond your joy. hope not to be a snob on the very day love shows up in love work clothes. hope to see your own skin and the greens of your white house. hope to talk to trees that last taught them everything you've always thought. hope that began to enter the
unknown, knowing yourself, for getting yourself also. hope to be consumed, to disappear into your own love. hope to know where you are, paradise. if nobody else does. hope that every failure, every failure is an arrow pointing towards enlightenment and hope to send only in the service of waking up. hardback [applause]
[applause] >> hi, ladies and gentlemen. my name is andy, we have about 10 or 15 minutes to take some questions. if you have a question, please raise your hand and we'll get a microphone to you. there's a gentleman in the back on the last with his hand up. yes, sir. >> i recently read a book one day in december by nancy staudt.
in reading the book, i felt that her biography has a special relevance, especially to women in this country. briefly just to say her life shows for women to become leaders in a struggle to guarantee that everyone has top-quality medical care as well as education, as well as an attempt to eliminate poverty. so i wonder if you could give a few words about why you decided to write the introduction. >> celia sanchez was really that equal partner in forming the cuban revolution. but nobody in this country
hardly has heard of her. and so, i get a lot of people asking me to read them. i picked this up and started reusing 400 pages long. so astonishing that made the revolution and the people that many of you in this audience are somewhat familiar with. she was a society young woman. i think it was because you as a doctor she got to see some of what was going on to the people in her country. for an sense, at that time it was the place for pedophilia brought in. people who didn't were brought in from the united states often
or were members of mob. so there it comes to cuba and avail themselves of and very smart children, young children. one of these as a child to celia had no because of her work with her doctor father. this is a turning point for her and many of the women. all of these revolutionary women who took up arms at work always the gators of the cuban revolution to the dictator who is in the pocket of the united states. so i read this through. i mean, it's just amazing. nancy staudt, the writer had access to the archives and all the letters between celia m.
seidel. it is such an eye-opening read because you understand we know so many of the reasons why we kept in the dark about cuba. but one of the big things we had no idea about is just how strong the women component was in that revolution. we've always shown just these men that basically had to be eradicated. celia herself live to be 60 and she died of liver cancer. she was a terrible smoker. her father before her was a smoker. he died of lung cancer. i think she was always so stressed because she was always trying to protect -- they try to assassinate the dell 648 times.
in the course of all of those attempts, it's amazing. they are really an amazing people. fidel and the people who killed. hoover whoever was looking, couldn't find him. one of the other fascinating aspects was they were revolutionary partnership. they never married. cuban society at that time, i don't know now, but it is very rigid about things that matrimony. if you're going to be living with a man, you have to be married. they were like when are you getting married? eventually fidel apparently got around to feeling the heat and
said, well, you want to get married? he apparently did this twice we know of each time she said no. she ended up doing basically every time he proposed marriage should build another room on her house and fix it up really beautifully. she did this from the very beginning. they made sure up in the not and they comfortable and hide her space. it definitely is. zero anyway, i read through this 400 pages. it was so astonishing that i went right back to the beginning and read it right for a second time because this is how information is kept. they put up an embargo. they take the people are evil.
just have to find out for else. i've always had a wonderful time, even in a period when it was no food, no gas, no nothing. i still felt these are great people and i'm very happy for them that they have had so many people in leadership who truly loved them. one day we will have somebody who truly loves us. [applause] >> great year in the fifth row. >> hello, mother alice, how are you? i am carla whaley. i'm kind of close to the ground. i wanted to thank you for writing every day his, and other
short very abused in the recovery community when i teach parenting about valuing our everyday things in ourselves and help you can say no to their children and loved them in still life affirming can send ways. i want to thank you for that. >> you're welcome. [applause] >> gentleman right behind. >> thank you very much, sister alice. wonderful poems and inspiration. i love the lessons that you teach, such as the one about letting go of present. that is in the last thing that i really need to learn. i will admit -- i just want day,